Category Archives: Herbs

Container Gardening – Pointers & Possibilities…

Early spring in Birmingham….the temperatures fluctuate up and down, and it’s still early to be planting the real heat lovers like caladiums and vinca in the ground – oh, but your fingers are itching to dig in the garden again…

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting....

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting….

Here perennial lamb's ear mixes with lavender and a pepperomia - a common houseplant that also adds great texture...

Here perennial lamb’s ear mixes with lavender, sedum and a pepperomia – (a common houseplant that also adds great texture…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sun lover includes pentas, scented geraniums, vinca and a 'Red Rubin' purple basil as well as a variegated Swedish ivy to meander through the entire composition...

This combination for sun includes pentas, scented geraniums, vinca, purple basil, and variegated Swedish ivy meandering through the entire composition…

Happily, you can begin planning your summer container plantings, which can also be great springboards for future garden groupings – testing them in a pot first is a safe and fun way to experiment.

This hanging basket for sun includes a sun loving caladium, angelonia, pink fan flower, trailing silver dichondra, and an airy white euphorbia...

This hanging basket for sun includes a sun loving caladium, angelonia, pink fan flower, trailing silver dichondra, and an airy white euphorbia…

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures are container combos from seasons past  – all lasted through the brutal heat of summer given water, deadheading and cutting back as necessary.

 

The old cliché of using a “thriller, filler and spiller” has been much used, (Maybe a little too much?) but don’t feel tied to it please! Designing creative plantings shouldn’t be absolute or bound by rigid rules.

'Indian Dune's' fancy leaf geranium, cordyline and thyme work in half day or full sun...

‘Indian Dune’s’ fancy leaf geranium, cordyline and thyme work in half day or full sun…

 

However, do try to combine plants that appreciate the same amount of light and water and have  growing habits that compliment one another.

 

 

 

If you can do that, any plant combo you like within those parameters is fair game. There are many plants that will handle a lot of sun but still appreciate a little shade, especially in the afternoon, when the heat is the most brutal. Others will need partial to full shade in our climate. The important thing is to choose  the right plants for whatever conditions you have.

Elephant ears add drama, with a heat tolerant fuschia, 'Gartenmeister' and a trailing maidenhair fern - this one was planted with a shady area in mind...

Elephant ears add drama, with a heat tolerant fuschia, ‘Gartenmeister’ and a trailing maidenhair fern – this one was planted with a shady area in mind…

The larger the container your space can accommodate the better! Not only will you be able to add more plants, but watering will be easier as well. Having said that, when maintaining large planters, if temperatures are in the 90’s every day and lows don’t get below the 70’s at night (July and August in Birmingham!), be prepared to water every day, even if your planters are in only half day sun. Of course, there are always exceptions…succulents, purslane, portulaca – these are a few plants that can take dry soil and heat, but even they will need water eventually!

Cordyline, fancy leaf geranium, baby tears...morning sun and afternoon shade or filtered sun suit this planting...

Cordyline, fancy leaf geranium, baby tears…morning sun and afternoon shade or filtered sun suit this planting…

Plant choices change weekly during the height of spring and it can be overwhelming…we’re happy to help you come up with the right combinations of plants for your containers if you’re unsure. Just be sure you know how much sun (or not!) they receive and the sizes of your planters,  and we can take it from there.

 

 

Another tip: Flowers aren’t always what adds the most pizazz. There are great foliage choices out there, many that add color with no blooms at all. Some of the most striking planters are those done with just foliage – try it sometime!

Foliage is as interesting as flowers!

Foliage is as interesting as flowers!

A shade planter - all foliage!

A shade planter – all foliage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kris Blevons

 

A New Planting Season Brings New Possibilities…Don’t Be Afraid!

Sunny Bed with Annuals & PerennialsI read a piece that Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery wrote a few years ago about some people being “controlling” gardeners while others are “gambling” gardeners. I really thought it was spot on, and I can say I’ve worked with both types.

 

Of course, many of us gamble each year, planting marginally  hardy plants that have done fine with our mild winters of past years. Boy, can some winters give us a whammy though!

Annual caladiums, coleus and pentas are added to this perennial bed

Annual caladiums, coleus and pentas are added to this perennial bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really liked this comment from Tony Avent,  “Controlling folks want everything to work out just as the gardening books say, and struggle when plants don’t do exactly that, while the gamblers take a chance, try new things and hope for the best.

For the gamblers if things don’t work out quite as expected, it’s an opportunity for something new, rather than a failure. Personally, I like the gamblers approach to gardening much better, and think it causes a lot less anxiety! So, what’s the point? The point is to relax and enjoy gardening, remembering that nature is always in charge.

Life and death in the garden are no different than life and death outside the garden. Our options are to dwell on the sadness of death or celebrate the life that passed and embrace the next life that lies ahead.”

Fall in the Herb GardenWith the beginning of a new planting season, my personal outlook is going to be that of looking on my  gardening efforts as a joy and an opportunity to not only beautify my landscape and surroundings but to nourish my soul as well; and, if there are failures, that will be part and parcel of the process. Some of my  best plant combinations have been happy accidents!

Herb Garden with Self Sown Vinca, Allysum & GomphrenaThe pictures here are of my garden – plants are allowed to self seed, failures are yanked out, and plants that strike my fancy are tucked in here and there where I think they might look good. It wouldn’t make anyone’s list of a perfectly designed space, but it’s mine and that’s how you should treat yours too.

Above all, whatever the outcome of your garden, take time to appreciate the life you bring into it…a butterfly on a zinnia bloom, a hummingbird hovering over a salvia, and bees doing their important work with them of  pollinating your flowers and vegetables.

Mid Summer Perennials & AnnualsMy ultimate hope is that many of you adopt the gambler attitude. It doesn’t have to be the high roller, high stakes approach, but try to roll with the plant punches, knowing they’ll come, and  treat your gardening efforts as what they should be – a relaxing, and therapeutic addition to your  daily schedule rather than a chore that’s only done on the weekends.

Posted by Kris Blevons

Early Spring Container Garden

March…The In-Between Month

Container Gardens

These containers can easily be covered or moved if temps drop…

Sign Planter - Poppies and ViolasThere’s really no in-between month for hard core gardeners, as there’s always something to do or a new revelation in the landscape.

 

 

 

 

But for the more casual plant person, a few warm days signal it’s time to call or visit the garden shop to buy all the spring bedding plants they can get their hands on.

 

Unfortunately there are more than a few businesses willing to sell them, even knowing our last average frost in the Birmingham area isn’t until mid-April. But please understand, March soil is too cold for basil, tomatoes, begonias, caladiums, and more that are offered to tempt even the smartest of us.

Container Gardens - Green Pots

Planters with perennials and a few annuals that prefer cooler temps.

 

 

This is why I call March the in-between month. It’s getting late to plant pansies and winter annuals, but it’s still early for the heat lovers, though we know their time is getting closer. Remember the blizzard of 93? That was 25 years ago –  in March.

Heucheras - March

Perennials -Heucheras

 

 

A better choice to spend money on now are perennials, those plants that return year after year. If you have planters small enough to cover easily or bring inside when temperatures drop, many herbs, cool season vegetables like lettuce,  broccoli, and cabbage and some annuals (See list below.)  that appreciate more moderate temps can be planted as well.

Container Garden with Herbs and Violas

Container garden with herbs and violas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some perennials available for early season purchase include Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’, creeping and summer phlox, daisies, daylilys, many ferns, hellebores, stokesia, and lobelia to name just a few. If you don’t see something you’re looking for always ask!

Annuals and some herbs that do well in very early spring before our last average frost include thyme, chives, oregano, tarragon, lavender, sweet alyssum, bacopa, calibrachoa, geraniums, dianthus, marigolds, and diascia. Remember, you must protect newly planted greenhouse grown annuals from freezing temperatures. 

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

Early Fall Arrivals

 

August and September are usually hot and dry, but even with the lack of rain and exceptionally high temperatures the transition into a new season has begun.  Many summer garden beds are tired and planters are overgrown or just plain gone. In the nursery business we look forward to October and new offerings of plants, as well as the beauty of pumpkins and gourds. Just when we need a fresh start, it arrives with new selections for the autumn plant palette, mumsmarigolds, and in October the first of the violas and pansies.

Marigolds come in all sizes, from tiny starter plants in cell packs or 4″ pots  perfect for tucking into tired pots, to 10″ offerings big enough to fill a planter all on their own. Mums covered in buds come in 4″, 8″ and larger pots, in many colors and make a big statement where it’s needed.  Be sure to handle them gently, as bud laden stems can break easily. Mums and marigolds aren’t available for long, but they offer transitional color and still allow you to plant pansies and violas when the weather is cooler.

More herbs will fill  the nursery as well,  including rosemary that will carry on through the winter. Curly parsley is beautiful in winter beds and planters, and  soon ornamental and edible kale, and mustards will appear also. Late summer brings perennials too. Have you tried heuchera in the garden or pots? They’re beautiful in part sun or full shade. Just be certain not to over water.

The greenhouse goes through transitions too. From succulents to many types of ferns and more, the amount of plants stays constant, though the variety changes with availability. So if your plants need refreshing with the new season, come take a look!

By Kris Blevons

 

Container Gardening Design Tips

Urn Planted for SummerSpring is for planting in the garden and in pots. Flowers, herbs, perennials, shrubs, and vegetables are all players in the annual game of  “What will grow in this spot?” or “What can I plant in this pot?”.

Summer Container GardenDyron's Urn - Summer 2015

 

 

 

Now that summer is here though, the pace is slower with fewer questions as more people slowly stroll the nursery for pleasure,  picking up the odd plant here and there or gathering more varied selections for filling in garden spaces that need extra color.Summer Container Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wheelbarrow - Summer PlantingMany of them come to see the planters we’ve put together, getting ideas for extra pots or to make note of a different combination of plants they might not have thought of.Hanging Basket Combination for Sun

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoy this time too (Since we’re all pretty much plantaholics!) and look on it as our play time with plantings, a reward for making it through another hectic spring season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herb Box with VincaSummer Container Garden

 

 

 

 

So, while our neatly lined tables are still filled with a good assortment of varied plants, you’ll also find our container plantings in various spots throughout the nursery too.

 

 

 

Summer Container Garden

 

Some find their way onto our Facebook and Instagram pages, others make their way to new homes. Wherever they end up we hope they give you as much pleasure as they’ve given us creating them.Dwarf Evergreen Planters

Dyron's Planter Tubs - May 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Container Gardening Tips:

Know your light. Plants that want sun won’t perform well in shade and vice versa.

If you want a pot filled only with flowers, choose blooms with different shapes for added interest. An example: A spiky salvia, rounded blooms of zinnias, flatter blooms of lantana.

Make it even more interesting and add a foliage for additional texture or color. Begin by choosing it, then add some flowers to compliment the color or shape of the leaves. An example: A spiky grass, a round pentas, an airy euphorbia, a trailing vinca.

Bigger planters call for bigger plants. Use at least one eye catcher or “thriller”. Add intermediate or “filler” plants, then complete the picture with a trailing or “spiller” selection. This is the tried and true Thriller, Filler, Spiller recipe. It never fails.  An example:  A black elephant ear (thriller), sunpatiens (filler), scaevola (spiller).

Think about the setting the planter is in. What color is your house? What trees and shrubs will be in bloom at various times? Do you entertain at night? What are your favorite colors? Are you there to maintain and water regularly?

No matter how small your planting starts out,  with proper care it may  grow  to enormous proportions. Be prepared to deadhead faded blooms at least weekly and clip back your planting as needed.

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

Gardening For Pollinators

Phlox 'Chattahoochee'I like to feel I’m doing a good job of gardening to attract pollinators. At any rate, my home garden and the ‘Better Late Than Never’ garden across the street from Oak Street Garden Shop seem to have lots of bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, so I must be doing something right, right??!!??

Butterfly on Parsley Hawthorne Tree

Swallowtail Butterfly on Parsley Hawthorne

Researching pollinator gardening information for a garden talk and workshop recently, in the midst of wading through article after article (There are a lot of posts on honeybees and their decline, and numerous writings on attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.), I came to the conclusion that it basically boils down to this:

Your home and yard, garden, landscape, whatever you call the space that surrounds your home, is your personal ecosystem. The health of it and the pollinators that visit it depend on how you build your soil, what you plant, and how you choose to maintain it. 

So my choices have been to try to have as diverse a plant pallette as possible (I admit, I’m a plantaholic. Who knew that would play right into gardening for pollinators?) and to eliminate pesticide use almost entirely. I’m gratified when I hear of others that are trying to do the same thing.

Snapdragon

Bees love snapdragons!

I use organic soil amendments like PlantTone and Annie Haven’s Moo Poo Tea, have learned to live  with a few holes in leaves, let the ladybugs eat aphids (If they really get too bad, I wash them off with some soapy water.), and practice patience, knowing that most of the time an infestation of insects doesn’t last forever. I take great joy in bopping Japanese beetles off of my roses into a bucket of soapy water early in the morning when they’re most sluggish. I know each year they’ll be back – it’s just part of the garden’s cycle.

If you feel you have a large problem and must spray, start with the least toxic form of chemical control, and understand that even products labeled organic can be harmful to good bugs as well as bad.  ***Always read the label and follow directions carefully!Kris' Garden Late March 2016

I’ve learned that planting large swaths of color will attract bees, and that they prefer blue, purple, white, and yellow. I’ve learned to grow a wide variety of plants, including plants with a scent, herbs in particular. I’ve learned that while double blooms on flowers are attractive to us, they’re not especially useful for pollinators, and that they much prefer single, simple blooms. I’ve learned that flowers that come back from seed that drops in the garden (zinnias, sunflowers, bachelor buttons, larkspur to name a few),  perennials, and any of our native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers are preferable also.

Chionanthus virginicus - Fringe Tree

Chionanthus virginicus – Fringe Tree

Most importantly, I’ve learned that it’s not that hard, and actually quite a bit easier, to garden naturally. I have some clover in my grass. And you know what? It’s okay, because I have bees foraging it. Somewhere there’s some great honey in the making!

 

Our last average frost date is mid-April. In the coming weeks we’ll be stocking more and more plants for your pollinator gardens. Here are a few suggestions:

For Butterflies:   Zinnias, Gomphrena, Pentas, Marigolds, Verbena, Asters, Yarrow, Butterfly Weed

For Bees:   Purslane, Mexican Heather, Pentas, Sweet allysum, Bee Balm, Asters, Rudbeckia, Coneflower, Zinnia, Snapdragon, Sage, Basil, Rosemary, Agastache

For Hummingbirds: Cigar Plant, Salvias, Heat tolerant Fuschias, Agastache, Petunia, Hamelia, Lobelia, Bee Balm, Penstemon, NasturtiumsRock Outcrop Kris' Garden Late March 2016

Host Plants For Caterpillars:  Fennel, Parsley, Dill, Carrots, Zinnias, Viburnum, Oak Trees, Cosmos, Milkweed, hollyhocks

These lists are by no means exhaustive, but are meant to be a starting point for your pollinator garden. Some of these plants are best planted in the fall, while others are more heat tolerant.

*** Alabama’s watersheds, rich in animal and plant life, absorb  the brunt of chemical and fertilizer runoff from homeowner and commercial pesticide and fertilizer application. Be mindful that what you (and your neighbors) put in the landscape can adversely  affect these areas and the life in them.

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Sage, A Late Season Bloomer That’s Worth The Wait!

Late season color isn’t limited to asters and mums. Another that takes center stage this time of the year, and that makes us wait all summer, is the pineapple sage, Salvia elegans. And elegant  it is, with beautiful red blooms that begin in October and continue through the month. I’m sure their scarlet red blooms, signaling nectar, are a happy sight for migrating hummingbirds too. The one pictured here is just beginning to bloom in my garden.

Introduced into horticulture around 1870, pineapple sage has been around awhile, and new cultivars include a yellow-green leaf version. I prefer the old standby with medium green leaves that grows about 4 1/2 tall and makes a wide clump with age. Give it room!

Buds just beginning to form...

Buds just beginning to form…

 Put it in a sunny spot, keep it watered, and be prepared to wait for buds that begin to form in late September…about when another beautiful salvia, Mexican Sage, Salvia leucantha, also begins to show color. In Birmingham pineapple sage  is a tender perennial and will die to the ground with a killing frost. Knowledge is power. Knowing it is tender, be certain  to mulch it well with shredded pine bark or pinestraw. 

Brushing against the leaves of pineapple sage is an olfactory pleasure, as it really does smell exactly like  pineapple. They’re edible and can be made into a tea or chopped into salads. The brilliant red blooms can be eaten too, but I prefer them as a striking garnish on a plate and would rather look at them than eat them I think!

If you’d like to try this beautiful salvia in your garden, stop in. There are some available now.

By Kris Blevons

Fall Container Planting…(There’s More Than Just Pansies Out There!)

Fall Planter With Chamaecyparis 'Crippsii'The temperatures are hopefully trending downward, and you’re thinking about redoing your summer plantings. There seem to be so many choices; it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at the garden shop, even though you probably thought you had it all figured out before you left home!

I’ve seen the slightly dazed look  on folks’ faces as they peruse the tables upon tables of pansies, violas, snapdragons, various herbs and ornamental greens. Invariably they turn to us with a bewildered look and say, “I have (insert number of pots here) and need to fill them. Can you help me?!”

Assuming you have at least a half days worth of sun for flowers, the usual pansies and violas will work just fine all on their own if you really don’t want to do a whole lot of thinking; but there’s so much more out there to play with! From the simplest addition of beautiful green curly parsley (It adds such great color and texture to a planting.) to a more complex mix of greens, grasses and herbs, there’s no limit to fun combinations.

Close up - fall planterThe large planter here is one of a pair, used at the top of stairs leading onto a wide open porch. I took my color cues from the red brick and cream color of the house in choosing my plants, using predominantly yellow with the evergreen Chamaecyparis ‘Crippsii’, yellow variegated  Acorus ‘Ogon’, golden creeping Jenny to trail, and Matrix ‘Lemon’ pansies. To this I added ornamental red mustard, and a chard with red stems called ‘Charlotte’. These will add big, bold leaves, beautiful foliage color, and added height.

Next, more flowers  with a trailing white pansy called Cool Wave White,  a few orange violas and a trailing rosemary  –  the brown grass trailing off to one side and tucked in the back as well is Carex ‘Toffee’. When the sun shines on this grass it glows!

Fall Planter - Cham 'Crippsii''These planters are quite large and can support this variety of plants. In smaller planters, a smaller shrub, some curly parsley, pansies and a trailing plant might be sufficient. Remember, more is always better in planters and windowboxes to give them a lush overflowing feel.These planters will make a definite statement as they grow out.

  • Tips For Maintaining Your Fall/Winter Planters:
  • – As always, keep faded blooms deadheaded.

– Don’t overwater.  As the weather cools in the fall and winter, it’s best to let planters go a bit drier.

– If plants like ornamental cabbage and parsley do get dry between watering, you’ll have some yellow leaves. Groom these and other plants regularly, removing any yellowing leaves that you see. Remember, they’re not going to turn green again!

– Watch the weather and be prepared to cover your planters if freezing temperatures are forecast. Prior to covering, water them thoroughly. Uncover them as soon as the temperatures are above freezing.

Some Interesting Choices To Use With Pansies And Violas In  Winter Planters:

  • Chamaecyparis obtusa – various selections;  they make excellent evergreen accents.
  • Cupressus ‘Carolina Sapphire’ – beautiful blue evergreen, good in the landscape also.
  • Rosemary – large evergreen herb, upright or trailing varieties.
  • Juniper – ‘Blue Point’
  • Thuja – ‘Golden Globe’ arborvitae, nice, rounded form.
  • Heuchera & Heucherella selections – evergreen perennials, interesting as a foliage element – airy blooms in spring.
  • Acorus – adds another texture to plantings; grasslike variegated leaves add color as well.
  • Ornamental Kale – ‘Redbor’ and ‘Winterbor’ are two very upright growing forms of kale,  but there are many others. ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Lacinato’ are also edible. In a normal to mild winter they’ll last til spring. As heat returns, they’ll “bolt”, or bloom, adding yellow flowers.
  • Ornamental Mustard – These add a bold leaf and a darker color to compositions.
  • Chard – another beautiful and edible addition to containers or garden beds.
  • Curly Parsley – Adds texture in winter plantings; also a beautiful shade of deep, clean green.
  • Golden Creeping Jenny – A useful trailing element, it may get knocked back in a freeze but adds color until then and will come back as temperatures moderate.
  • Muehlenbeckia, Angel Vine – tough as nails trailer. Will lose it’s leaves in a freeze but normally reappears in the spring. Protect it and it will be green through the winter in Birmingham.
  • Sweet Alyssum – not available for long in fall, but a nice addition to planters until it succumbs to freezing temperatures.
  • Poppies – available through the fall; worth trying if you haven’t. They hunker down through the winter but will fill out in the spring, adding their bright, papery blooms to liven any planting. Take care to not overwater under cool winter conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Container Gardening With Herbs – The Basics

for summer - lots of herbs and some flowers too...

for summer – lots of herbs and some flowers too…

Herbs are beautiful additions to any container garden, either on their own or combined with seasonal flowers. They add colorful leaves, texture, scent, and culinary usefulness to plantings and attract bees and other beneficial insects as well.

Planting Basics:

Use as large a pot as possible.

Use good quality potting soil.

Fertilize lightly.

Maintenance of Herbs in Containers:

Herbs often suffer from overfertilizing, overwatering, and overcrowding. Water when dry so that water runs out the bottom of the container. Remember pots will dry out quickly in the heat of summer and during windy conditions. Empty water that may be standing in saucers. Clip your herbs regularly. This will keep them from becoming leggy and overcrowded, especially if they’ve been used in combination plantings.  Harvest herbs in the morning and just prior to bloom. Near the end of the season, allow your basil to bloom; the bees love it! Finally,  never prune woody herbs like rosemary to bare wood.

Using Herbs in Combination Plantings:

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting....

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting….

Start with the herbs you’d like to most use, either for an ornamental or culinary addition. Knowing their growth habits is helpful in deciding their placement in your container.

For example, use chives for a grasslike effect; thyme, trailing rosemary, and oregano to spill over the edges; lavender or upright rosemary for height; and parsley and sage as fillers in containers.

Another idea is to use one herb in a pot and group many such pots together. A rosemary plant, once mature, will easily fill a large 14″ or bigger planter, as will lavender. Mid-size (10″- 14″) pots can be filled with parsley, chives, sage, French tarragon, or, more easily grown in the south, Texas tarragon. The larger the pot the better!

Annual Herbs Basil, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Grass (warm season); Cilantro, Dill (cool season); parsley (biennial).

Herbs and Succulents...

Herbs and Succulents…

Perennial Herbs Rosemary, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Sage, Chives, Mint, Lavender, French Tarragon, Texas Tarragon, Savory, Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Rue, Santolina, Fennel, Germander, Summer and Winter Savory.

Cool Season Herbs Cilantro, Dill, Salad Burnet, Chervil.

Plant Sizes

Small  – under 1 foot in diameter: Parsley, Dill, Chives (garlic & onion), Cilantro, Salad Burnet, Chervil.

Medium – 1-2 feet in diameter: Thyme, Tarragon, Basils, Mint.

Large 3 feet or more in diameter or over 4 feet high: Rosemary, Oregano, Lemon Verbena, Sage.

Sun/Moisture

Dry, sunny, Mediterranean conditions: Rosemary, Oregano, Marjoram, Sage, Lavender, Thyme, Tarragon, Germander, Santolina.

Cooler, afternoon-shaded locations: Mint, Cilantro, Dill, Chives, Parsley, Lemon Balm, Salad Burnet, Lemon Grass.

Common methods of propagation of perennial herbs: Divisions: Chives, Mint, Thyme, Oregano. Cuttings: Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Winter Savory, Lemon Verbena, Rue.

Rosemary looking a little rough after this past winter...

Rosemary looking a little rough after this past winter…

Pests & Diseases Of Herbs Careful cultivation of your herbs will help keep them healthy and less susceptible to pests and diseases. Provide adequate water when needed, plant with the proper spacing for the best air circulation, and place them in the right amount of sun. Chemicals, obviously should not be used on any herbs you plan to harvest. Insecticidal soap or a strong spray of water is generally enough to deter most pests.

Aphids – Soft-bodied insects found on new growth and easily controlled by a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

Whiteflies  Can be problematic, spraying the undersides of the leaves consistently with insecticidal soap is necessary to eliminate them. In large infestations they’ll fly out of the center of the plant in a white cloud when disturbed. An important point to keep in mind is that spraying with the wrong insecticide can make whitefly problems worse, since spraying with the wrong insecticide will kill important predatory insects and tiny parasitic wasps that help control whiteflies. These naturally occurring beneficial insects are the best way to control whiteflies, and whitefly outbreaks generally occur when this natural control is disrupted. The best course of action is to preserve beneficials by avoiding unnecessary insecticidal treatments.
Look HERE  for more information from Mississippi State University.

Leaf Hoppers – These insects hop from plant to plant so are known to spread diseases. Control with insecticidal soap spray.  Remove any garden debris each fall to reduce over-wintering sites. Thorough coverage of both upper and lower infested leaves is necessary for effective control.

Leaf Miner – Burrowing insects that live inside leaves and are identified by the white “trails” on the leaves. The best control is to cut the plant back and throw away (Do not compost.) those leaves. Common on parsley in particular.

Caterpillars – Always try to identify caterpillars before you get rid of them! Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars are commonly found on parsley, fennel, and dill. Bt and Sevin dust will control those you do want to eliminate, as will hand picking.

Powdery Mildew – Mildew is caused by too little air circulation. Thinning the plant and clipping back surrounding plants to improve air movement will help.

The following organic fungicide of baking soda and water can also be applied on your herbs:

1 Tbsp baking soda. ½ Tsp liquid soap   1 Tbsp light horticultural oil  in 1 gallon of water.

Always spray in the coolest portion of the day, avoid spraying when bees are active, and test this on a small portion of the plant first. The oil coats and smothers the fungi, and the soap helps the mix cling to the upper and lower portions of the leaf.

Latin names for herbs listed in this post:

Anise Hyssop: Agastache foeniculum;  Basil: Ocimum basilicum; Chives: Allium schoenoprasum; Garlic chives: Allium tuberosum; Cilantro: Coriandrum sativum; Dill: Anethum graveolens; Fennel: Foeniculum vulgare; Germander: Teucrium chamaedrys; Lavender: Lavandula sp.; Santolina: Santolina chamaecyparissus, Santolina virens; Lemon Balm:  Melissa officianalis; Lemon Grass: Cymbopogon citratus; Lemon Verbena: Aloysia triphylla ; Marjoram: Origanum majorana; Mint: Mentha sp.; Oregano (Greek) Origanum heracleoticum; Parsley: Petroselinum crispum; Rosemary: Rosmarinus officianalis; Rue: Ruta graveolens; Sage: Salvia officianalis; Salad Burnet: Sanguisorba minor; French tarragon: Artemesia dracunculus; Texas tarragon: Tagetes lucida; Thyme: Thymus sp.  Winter Savory: Satureja Montana; Summer Savory: Satureja hortensis

Summer Container Gardens…The Heat Is On

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Owner, Billy Angell’s deck might not be finished yet, but his pots are!

It’s high summer with the 4th of July just past… time for vacations and lazy days at the lake, the beach, or maybe just spent lolling by the pool with a good book. I’m off on a much anticipated vacation to visit family and friends too, but I wanted to share a few more plantings first. If you are off and away, be sure to make arrangements for a friend to tend your plantings and container gardens so they’re as pretty when you return as when you left. No one wants to come home to a sad garden, after all.

Here, then, are a few plantings we’ve done recently:

All flowers...Pinkie's creations for a customer

All flowers…Pinkie’s creations for a customer

Flowers obviously add blooms for bees and butterflies. Pinkie used an assortment of flowers for a customer’s containers. She included pentas, lantana (The butterflies love them!), angelonia, million bells (calibrachoa), purslane, plumbago and salvias for loads of color. With plantings like this, it’s necessary to keep old blooms cut off (deadheading).

Container Planting for SunMany of the container plantings we do are in light, mâché pots that can either be used on their own or placed in another planter. Here’s one with a mix of sun coleus, a dracaena (Barely visible in this picture, it adds a spiky leaf.), lantana, red million bells to trail,  and a white angelonia. This planting will get much larger and fuller as the heat of summer settles in, and daily watering will be necessary.

The coleus will also need pinching back as it gets larger. This may seem difficult at first, but it’s really quite good for the plant and will allow it to grow fuller rather than getting leggy and scraggly. Think about it this way: Every time you cut it back, there will be two stems of colorful leaves rather than just one. It rewards you for your efforts!

Hanging Basket for Sun - Rhoeo spathacea, String of Pearls, Echeveria, ChivesThe white, cone-shaped hanging basket shown here is now home to a common houseplant, an herb, and some succulents. While it may seem an unusual combination, it’s working quite nicely and has a cool, summery look. The houseplant is a pink and green tradescantia (It’s also known as Rhoeo spathacea.), sometimes called Moses In The Cradle.

It’s keeping company with some succulent echevarias and trailing string of pearls, just beginning to peek over the edge of the basket in this picture. I added a pot of chives in the center, just for its spiky green leaves. This is hanging in the nursery waiting for someone to give it a home.

Container Planting - Summer - Part SunWe have a few tall, lightweight planters still available, and this planting shows one of them off. A tall, white ruellia (They’re sometimes called perennial petunia.) is combined here with a caladium whose leaves will get very large. The name of this one is ‘Garden White’, and it’s impressive! The large leaves will contrast nicely with the smaller leaves of the ruellia. Another foliage contrast is provided by the silvery-purple leaves of a strobilanthes, sometimes called Persian Shield. A beautiful foliage plant, it benefits from a cutback every now and then if it gets to lanky in the planting. To trail there’s a blue fanflower, scaevola.

Container Planting - Sweetheart Pink Caladium, Alternanthera 'Little Ruby', Blue Daze, Lime Potato Vine, under 'Carolina Sapphire' CypressFinally, since we had a few ‘Carolina Sapphire’ cypress left, they were candidates for a planting using smaller plants at the base to add fullness, color, and trail. These planters will be in the sun and can be changed out in the fall with the addition of pansies and other cold weather plants for the winter season.

For now, though, the underplanting includes dwarf ‘Sweetheart Pink’ caladiums, trailing blue daze, lime green potato vine, a new silver helichrysum, and the purple foliage of an alternanthera ‘Little Ruby’. Watering, clipping out caladium seed pods (It’s best to cut them off so the energy of the plant goes toward making new leaves.), and keeping the potato vine cut back (if desired) will be needed.

These are just a sampling of the plantings we’ve done this season. Plants that are available from growers change rapidly, and so do our offerings. Hopefully you’ve planted a few pots this summer and are enjoying them now!

More Container Gardens…Foliage, Flowers and Pizazz!

The last post highlighted a few shade planters, and I hope this one will give you ideas for your hot, sunny spots. Even with large planters maintaining a set watering schedule is important when plantings are sited in full sun.  If your plantings wilt as a result of being too dry between watering over and over, eventually they’ll become so stressed they won’t recover. So, if you’ll be leaving for any extended period, ask a neighbor or friend to check your plantings and water regularly.

This planting is easy to hand water since it needs to be dry...

This planting is easy to hand water since it needs to be dry…

The first planting is a classic “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” combination, designed for a tall urn, using a silver foliage plant called cardoon. It will get very large, creating a dramatic centerpiece while the  mounding, succulent echevarias fill the middle with their pinky gray rosettes. The beautiful heat tolerant trailing dichondra creates a waterfall of shimmery silver over the edge. This is the most drought tolerant of the plantings shown here but still needs attention – even succulents need water!

Planted Container for SummerThe next uses a red fountain grass for height in a tall planter with the addition of white Profusion zinnias and white euphorbia as fillers. Spilling out are blue daze and potato vine. This planting will bloom continuously with regular water and periodic deadheading or clipping back of the zinnias. Late in the summer the grass will begin to bloom for an end of the season finale.

Wheelbarrow - Planted For Summer

 

This wheelbarrow is a fun and bright mix of flowers and herbs and will provide a riot of color through the hottest months. This type of whimsical container calls for a jumble of color,  and here it’s provided by zinnias, vinca, fanflower, rudbeckia, ornamental oregano, purple basil, and thyme. It would be perfect in the middle of a cottage kitchen garden! It will be necessary to deadhead the zinnias as they fade, cut back the fan flower periodically, pinch the vinca if necessary, and harvest the basil and thyme. Watering daily will be a must, since it’s planted very intensively with many plants.

Urn - Chamaecyparis and Summer AnnualsMany of you have pots that have shrubs in them that live year round, and just need some color added each season. In this example, the Chamaecyparis adds yellow foliage and is complimented through the summer with yellow million bells, white narrow leaf zinnias,  silver dichondra and some euphorbia. The million bells and zinnias will be cut back when they get too leggy (There’s no need to deadhead each individual bloom on these.) and it will be watered daily, since the Chamaecyparis has been in this planter for a few years and it’s roots are filling the planter quite extensively.

Planted Container for Summer - AlocasiaThe final planting uses a dramatic, and very large Alocasia – this speaks for itself, though it has supporting players as well, including dracaena, epescia, nepenthes, and alternanthera. It’s quite a combo.

I hope this and the previous posts will give you the confidence to try new plants and combinations, to be braver about cutting plants back (Yes,  they do need it every now and then!) and the understanding that these types of intensive plantings need regular water whether you’re home or not to keep them looking their best. 

Arrangement Inspiration – Spring 2014

Jamie created this Mother's Day gift using herbs and annuals...

Jamie created this Mother’s Day gift using herbs and annuals…

There isn’t much time in the spring for writing and work on the computer in the nursery business, and the pictures in this post and the ones to follow will  give you a glimpse why and are a fraction of what we’ve been working on recently.

This year especially, with Easter falling late and the Mother’s Day holiday arriving a little over two weeks later, the demand for help planting spring planters and beds and then gifts to give for Mother’s Day really kept us hopping!

Pinkie created this piece in a customer's container for a party using bedding plants and asparagus fern...

Pinkie created this piece in a customer’s container for a party using bedding plants and asparagus fern…

 

 

 

 

The past two months have flown by, and Mother’s Day is now past. Now the final push to finish spring planting is on, and the long, slow slide to summer begins.

Two corkwood pieces I fashioned into a planter - Bantel's Sensation sanseveria, calathea, trailing pepperomia and selaginella...

Two corkwood pieces I fashioned into a planter – Bantel’s Sensation sanseveria, calathea, trailing pepperomia and selaginella…

 

 

 

Here, then, is a sampling  of arrangements that we’ve created in the rush of early spring. Some are orchid arrangements in customers’ containers (and some in ours); others are arrangements in corkwood. Still more are short term plantings for parties, using bedding plants and herbs that can be planted in containers and in the garden outside after the festivities.  Enjoy.

This arrangement was for the wedding of a gardener. Variegated iris, ligularia, rosemary and nicotiana share space with the double spike orchid...

This arrangement was for the wedding of a gardener. Variegated iris, ligularia, rosemary and nicotiana share space with the double spike orchid…

This basket was a thank you gift - the hydrangeas can be planted in the garden after they've bloomed...

This basket was a thank you gift – the hydrangeas can be planted in the garden after they’ve bloomed…

A small corkwood planter for shade that will eventually get quite large...new guinea impatiens, torenia, creeping jenny and irish moss to trail,  a brake fern and  a bit of ajuga...

A small corkwood planter for shade that will eventually get quite large…new guinea impatiens, torenia, creeping jenny and irish moss to trail, a brake fern and a bit of ajuga…

Redtwig dogwood branches add to the vibrancy of this lively arrangement...

Redtwig dogwood branches add to the vibrancy of this lively arrangement…

Bedding plants and herbs in bright colors brightened tables for a party...

Bedding plants and herbs in bright colors
brightened tables for a party…

The silvery air plant leaves work well with this container.  Calathea leaves add even more interest...

The silvery air plant leaves work well with this container.
Calathea leaves add even more interest…

Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ A New Introduction!

Lavender 'Phenomenal;  Photo Courtesy Peace Tree Farms

Lavender ‘Phenomenal; Photo Courtesy Peace Tree Farms

Here’s the second plant of the spring season that I’m excited about; the first one, digiplexis, looks like it will be a winner for our area.  Introduced in 2012 by Peace Tree Farms in Pennsylvania, Lavender x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’, is touted to be a truly humidity and heat tolerant variety.

Unfortunately, many of us in the south have tried lavender over and over. We’ve planted them in the best of spots with lots of sun, excellent drainage, and even added  lime to “sweeten” our acidic soil. But, invariably, the cold tolerant English lavender varieties have either succumbed to the never-ending humidity and heat of southern days (and nights!),  or the more heat tolerant Spanish and French varieties have died in the damp, cold, and waterlogged soil in the winter.  (Excellent drainage is definitely a must for any lavender, especially in the winter.)

Lavender 'Phenomenal'  Photo Courtesy Peace Tree Farms

Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ Photo Courtesy Peace Tree Farms

Attaining a size of roughly 24″-30″ tall and wide, Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ is reputed to be resistant to many of the foliar diseases that have plagued southern gardeners and is also extremely fragrant. The look is that of a classic lavender plant, with bright blue blooms held high above mounding, silvery-green foliage.

Maybe this will be the truly perennial lavender for us, and the others can be used for what they’re best for, either through the summer, and maybe winter, like the Spanish lavenders or as a winter interest lavender like the beautiful English and French offerings. Who says we can’t have it all?

 

I am hoping for the best with Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ and have contracted a local grower to supply us with some this spring.  Some will definitely be going in my garden!

 

 

Succulents…See Some Things We’ve Created!

succulents in the greenhouse...

succulents in the greenhouse…

air plants...

air plants…

With the spring planting season approaching, the nursery will be a plant lovers dream, filled with the best of everything we can find. These include fragrant, ornamental, and edible herbs, including the popular oregano ‘Kent’s Beauty’, sun and shade loving perennials for your garden,  bright, flowering annuals for pots and planting beds, and shrubs expressly selected for their ornamental qualities and durability in southern gardens.

Another grouping of plants we have all year around are succulents, and they are so beautiful arranged in containers for the summer or as a combination planting in the home all year around. Some shown here also incorporate tillandsias, or air plants because their care and culture is so similar.

living wreath...

living wreath…

The living wreath shown here that Molly planted was a huge hit on our Facebook page, and for good reason.  Just look at all the interesting textures and colors used, including echeverias, cryptanthus, air plants and even a tiny phalaenopsis orchid! This post on creating a living wreath give you some tips on how to make your own masterpiece. To see yet another that Jamie made, take a look HERE.

imageBecause succulents, air plants and even bromeliads (another great companion) come in so many different shapes, colors and sizes, it’s fun to come up with endless combinations. Here are more that we’ve created in the past few months.

In this long, narrow planter Lauren used a number of different plants including succulent echevarias, sedums, haworthias, and a pretty pink aloe. Meandering through this combination are pilea ‘Aquamarine.’

this will get large!

this will get large!

 

This two tier planting is going to get quite large! Flapjack kalanchoes share the space with a trailing succulent-like plant called dorotheanthus which will have charming little red flowers as the weather gets hotter. It’s also quite cold tolerant, though not completely hardy for us here. This container would be best moved in for the winter.

image

 

 

 

 

We’ve used cork bark planters to great effect in the past, and here Molly planted one with some really beautiful hen and chicks, sempervivum sp., and a couple of hardy sedums. This planting could be kept outdoors through the winter with the exception of the tiny aloes on each end, which can be repotted and moved inside during the colder months. The entire planting could also be moved into a sunny room for the winter.

one of two...

one of two…

air plants add height until the flapjack kalanchoe gets larger...

air plants add height until the flapjack kalanchoe gets larger…

The two pretty white pots shown here work together (There’s actually a third as well.) I used a tall tillandsia to add some height to this planting until the flapjack kalanchoe attained some size. The cryptanthus adds some color at the front and the pilea will contribute delicate trailing leaves to this composition.   In the second pot I added an echevaria to the planting, keeping the pinky color scheme going.

Be careful not to overwater if a container doesn't drain...

Be careful not to overwater if a container doesn’t drain…

Succulents can be planted in anything! This copper planter does not have drainage though, so the plantings need very careful attention to be sure they’re not overwatered – always be mindful of what kind of containers you’re using. Those that drain are always best. I have to confess I just really liked how this looked anyway! And, it’s been growing quite happily in the greenhouse since February.image

Succulents can be used as accents. too. Here a container is home to a tall sanseveria and  pussy willow stems with  sweet allysum tucked between for it’s dainty white blooms.

Finally, if you’re designing a container with succulents (Or anything!) remember the container you’re placing them in is part of the design as well.  This little log shaped planter is brown in color but  tinged with a touch of pink. I liked how the cryptanthus on the left picked up on that but contrasted with the other plants chosen to offset it in color and weight.image

So, with warmer weather right around the corner,  grab a pot, stop in , and find some succulents and air plants of your own to plant up – you can’t go wrong – promise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty Plantings…A Dough Bowl, Glazed Pots and More

Pinkie filled this dough bowl with pansies, diascia, sweet allysum, lettuce and more...

Pinkie filled this dough bowl with pansies, diascia, sweet allysum, lettuce and more…

Look at all the different flowers Jamie used here...and not any of them cut!

Look at all the different flowers Jamie used here…and not any of them cut!

This time of year is a transition period in the nursery and the greenhouse, and, quite honestly, we’re ready for the change of seasons.

What goes into pretty plantings for parties and gifts is changing too. We’re nearing the end of the late winter primroses, forced bulbs, and pansies and looking forward to all the spring flowers to work with next.

Lauren put this pretty planter together...

Lauren put this pretty planter together…

 

 

Before we move on, though,  I wanted to bring you some of the things we’ve been doing – from a dough bowl filled with flowers and herbs to glazed pots with pretty blooms, a simple green  pot with beautiful foliage, and one made with lichen branches wired together to create a container. There’s always something to create, and what fun it is!

I loved this begonia in this pot...

I loved this begonia in this pot…

 

 

None of the flowers we use are cut. We work with live plants, so the longevity is much better than a fresh flower arrangement, and, as an added bonus, many of the plants can be used outside, either in containers or in the ground when it’s time to take the whole thing apart.  Think lettuce, herbs and forced bulbs planted in the garden!

 

 

This container fashioned out of lichen branches has a woodsy feel...

This container fashioned out of lichen branches has a woodsy feel…

A planting that will continue to grow, either in the house or on a bright porch once the weather warms, is this green glazed bowl, filled with a rhizomatous begonia, an aluminum plant and some selaginella. It would be a pretty addition for Saint Patrick’s Day!

 

 

 

And here are the lichen branches I wired and glued together to make a container. When the primrose is played out, another plant can easily be slipped into its spot with the frosted selaginella and creeping jenny…or an entirely new planting could be created! We have quite a few of these lichen branches that Jamie found and that we’re playing with. If you’d like us to incorporate something like this into one of your planters, let us know.

spring blooms...

spring blooms…

 

 

 

Finally, here’s a teal pot, filled completely with pretty blooms. Soon these flowers won’t be available,  but by then we’ll be ready to move on to a new season and more creative possibilities.  For now, though, it’s enough to have spring in a pretty bowl – and who wouldn’t like that?

 

Herbs, Veggies, Cool Season Annuals Shine in Late Winter Containers…

Wondering what to do about your winter-weary container plantings? It’s still too early to put in the real heat lovers, but there is hope.

Sweet allysum, lettuce and violas

Sweet allysum, lettuce and violas

If your pots  look just plain awful, it may be time to, at the very least, empty them out and add fresh potting soil so you’re either ready to freshen them now  or get a jump on planting them in another month or so.  (You’ll be so happy you did this when you don’t have to do it later!)

 

 

Herbs add so much to container plantings. Whether it be some thyme to trail over the edge or a bit of parsley to add some fluff, they will add texture, color, and scent…not to mention it’s nice to snip a bit here and there for cooking! Take a look at this herb post from last year for more information. While not everything in that post has arrived yet, it will soon; so keep your eyes open!

 

Silver thyme and lettuce brighten this planting...

Silver thyme and lettuce brighten this planting…

Other great additions this time of year are lettuce and arugula…just in time for spring salads! Plant some now and you’ll be picking until the heat sets in and they “bolt”, or send up blooms. This will mean they’re finished for the season and need to be replaced with something that will withstand the heat of summer. Another really pretty veggie addition is red-veined sorrel…and it’s very cold hardy as well.

Poppy and cool season annuals, diascia, sweet allysum and pansies

Poppy and cool season annuals, diascia, sweet allysum and pansies

 

 

 

 

 

This is also the time of year for what is termed “cool season annuals“. These are the flowers that shine when the nights are brisk and the days aren’t too too hot. Think sweet allysum, lobelia, heliotrope, diascia, and nemesia for starters (Though breeders have now improved the sweet allysum to withstand even our brutal summers.),

 

We even have the first of the geraniums in stock now; they love this late winter, early spring weather. If your pansies survived this winter, they should begin to really blooom for the next month, as well, and snapdragons will even later.

Red veined sorrel adding some color...also shown Perennial Veronica 'Georgia Blue' and golden acorus.

Red veined sorrel adding some color…also shown Perennial Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’, golden acorus and lemon variegated thyme…

 

When the heat takes it’s toll on these cool season beauties, it will be time to plant your summer combinations. We’re so lucky to be able to have more than one growing season!

caution when using these cool season flowers, however. Be a weather watcher and protect these from any freezing temperatures. If you do this, you’ll have the prettiest planters of anyone on your block!

Remember, you can always bring your manageably sized pots in for us to plant! We also carry a good selection of the biodegradable pulp pots that look great on their own or can be dropped into another container. Like to do it yourself? Browse the nursery and collect what you want for your planters, or ask us for help choosing just the right plants.

 

 

Interesting Late Winter Arrangements…

Cork Bark Planter with Spring Bulbs and Lichen BranchesBark Planter with Spring BulbsNow that January is behind us, we can look forward to spring, knowing it is right around the corner. Until then, we’ve been satisfying our planting urges using late winter offerings from growers. We are determined to come up with something interesting on long winter days in the greenhouse!

Jamie found some wonderful lichen covered branches; they’re beautiful to work with. She positioned them on one of our cork pieces and planted around them, creating a visual feast of winter flowers – cyclamen, primroses, muscari, osteospermum and teté a teté narcissus – for a customer. The bright flowers of this piece and the addition of some ceramic mushrooms make it memorable!Lichen Branch Planter

I wired one large lichen covered branch that had an interesting shape to one a bit smaller, using bark wire.  I  then lined the opening that was created with waterproof foil and sheet moss. In this “container” I planted a simple fittonia and air plant arrangement. The size and shape make this one a nice coffee table piece…and it would be very easy to care for too.

Cork Bark Planter - Aeonium, Mustard & ThymeCork Bark Planter - Aeonium, Mustard & ThymeMany of the succulent aeoniums fare better here during the winter months. They seem to dislike our excessive summer humidity (Don’t we all?), and the Aeonium ‘Kiwi’ seemed just right to work into some sort of arrangement. I loved how they looked paired with this frilly dark purple leaf ornamental mustard. If I could just work it into a container that could be moved in and out easily if temperatures dropped below freezing…

I chose a cork bark piece that complimented  the aeoniums and mustard. With the addition of some creeping thyme and a couple of pots of species crocus bulbs just beginning to come up, I think it turned out pretty well!

Lichen branches and rex begonias...

Lichen branches and rex begonias…

 

 

 

 

We have more of these lichen covered branches available, if you’d like to use some for an arrangement of your own, or we can  put one together for you.

 

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Hard To Find Plant Alert: Jerusalem Sage – Coming This Spring!

It’s been a number of years since we’ve been able to offer Jerusalem Sage, Phlomis fruticosa. There was a wonderful specimen growing years ago that many folks saw as part of a local garden tour.  I remember thinking then that all the garden shops in town could have sold many, many of them if we’d only known what a hit it would be! As it was, every other person that weekend asked us about it…and for many weeks after.

Jerusalem sage...

Jerusalem sage…

Jerusalem sage is one of those marvelous, on the edge of its comfort zone plants.  Mine is at the very top of a rock outcrop where the drainage is excellent. Being a native of the Mediterranean, excellent drainage really is a must for this gray leaved, yellow flowering shrub.  Provide part sun and adequate water through the  summer, with infrequent, deep watering during the hottest, driest periods.  Deer and rabbit resistance make it a good choice for any of you who have critter issues, too.

So, do you have a spot for something new and interesting? Perhaps in a tough border area with mixed perennials and annuals…or maybe on its own in a planter in a protected spot. Wherever you choose to try it, you’ll be sure to get comments!

 

Late Summer Plants Jump Start The Fall Garden

Marigolds & Coleus - FallI’m not quite sure I’ve been  living in the Southeast this summer…plentiful rain and decent temperatures – (Though it looks like the heat is finally returning.) this has been Alabama in August?!

But, even with a manageable summer, annuals planted back in April can still be looking worse for wear, no matter how well you tend your garden and containers. Potted plantings especially can get just plain root bound, and may need rejuvenating by late summer when school starts back up.

Pumpkin season is right around the corner...

Pumpkin season is right around the corner…

 

 

And, before you know it, pumpkins and gourds will be on display all over town – and they look beautiful with all the late summer plants you can begin putting in now and in the coming weeks!

But what to do? If you’ve been cutting back your annuals they may be just fine. If they are, that’s great. Keep tending them until pansy season, which generally begins when temperatures really begin to cool down and fall is definitely in the air – usually sometime in October.

photo (33)But, if your garden and beds are struggling…think about where you’d like to see marigolds, ornamental peppers, late season salvias, and, further down the road, lettuce, asters and cool season herbs – we’ll have transplants of parsley, thyme (Look for the lemon variegated thyme which looks beautiful with green or red lettuce and marigolds.) dill and cilantro too.
Just a few marigolds go a long way in planters or beds – each plant gets quite large – and they only need periodic dead heading to keep blooms coming.

What about mums, you ask? Well, we’ll have mums as well, and they are beautiful too. You do need to know though, as soon as all their buds open, there won’t be more flowers. You can enjoy them until they’re done blooming, but, no matter how many flowers you pinch off, they won’t make more! But for a weekend football party or get together, they can’t be beat as a traditional fall flower on a table or by your front door.

Soon everything will be available to create this planting arrangement...

Soon everything will be available to create this planting arrangement…

September is right around the corner, and that is the month all of these plants become more readily available. If you begin planning now, you can have a glorious fall planters and garden beds that are the envy of your neighborhood!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

 

Mix It Up – Potager Style Container Planting

Flowers, herbs, veggies…who says you can’t mix it up and make beautiful combinations with them?

winter mix...

winter mix…

Dyron’s Restaurant, next door in the old market space, opted to keep the three horse troughs in front…they added a couple of charming painted wooden benches in between two of them and asked if we would continue planting and maintaining them.

fall/winter planting - lettuce, kale, chard, herbs

fall/winter planting – lettuce, kale, chard, herbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

The planters are large and perfect for a good mix of herbs and flowers…and they get a lot of afternoon sun. This past winter the photos above show the planting included kale and chard with green and red lettuce, curly parsley, dill, variegated lemon thyme, silver thyme and trailing rosemary. Pansies and violas were added for even more color – and they’re edible too! During the holidays I added red twig dogwood branches in the center of each trough for additional interest.

for summer - lots of herbs and some flowers too...

for summer – lots of herbs and some flowers too…

This spring I gradually pulled out plants as they played out – the kale was the first to go after it went to flower. (They’re actually quite pretty when they bloom or bolt – with pretty yellow flowers on tall stalks.) Next the chard, curly parsley and violas were pulled out, fresh potting soil added, some of the remaining thyme and rosemary trimmed and they were ready to be planted for the summer…

Bright colors look good in front of the newly painted dark brown of the new porch space, so for the flowers I opted for yellow and white Profusion and narrow leaf zinnias and red Dragonwing begonias. A little Osmocote was added under the flowers to feed them through long the summer.

Horse troughs planted with a mix of herbs and flowers for Dyron's Restaurant next door
Horse troughs planted with a mix of herbs and flowers for Dyron’s Restaurant next door

Next, herbs…for the center trough I put in a lemon grass – this will get quite large and should provide the chef with plenty of goodness! Next, sweet and purple basil – hopefully they’ll be cutting plenty of basil for summer dishes – the variagated lemon thyme and trailing rosemary were left in place – they’re doing quite well and seem happy.

The sage you see is ‘Berggarten’, a beautiful large leaf sage, and it’s complimented by ‘Downy’ lavender, grown primarily for the blue flowers that continue through the summer if they’re kept deadheaded.

Maintenance on these planters will involve pinching the zinnias back, keeping the basil and other herbs clipped, and hoping the Dragonwing begonias don’t get too enormous – but, if they do, a little judicious clipping should keep them in check. The zinnias will add a lot of color and should fill in nicely…
Watering daily will be a necessity as the summer wears on.

We’ll keep you updated as these horse trough potager plantings fill in this season! If you’re interested in container gardening and want more tips, take a look also at this post from earlier this spring – it also shows some combinations with herbs and flowers…

 

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